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Child Went Forth, A

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Child Went Forth, A

Published 1942

Poetic exposition of a child's day at a modern (progressive education-minded) summer camp. Produced by John Ferno and Joseph Losey.

Run time 19:24
Producer Ferno (John) and Losey (Joseph)
Sponsor National Association of Nursery Educators
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


A simple, poetic exposition of a child's day at a modern summer camp. The six- to twelve-year-old children have been candidly photographed at work and play as they are encouraged to express their creative instincts and solve their problems independently.

Deals with children from two to seven, showing them in activities designed to cultivate self-reliance and independence. In close contact with nature in conditions as primitive as is consistent with safety, the children learn how to live with one another, learn self-discipline, learn how to build things and to develop their creative instinct. The commentary relates the activities of the camp to general progressive education techniques and emphasizes the potential importance of such institutions in solving the problem of caring for the children of women employed in defense industries and in emergency evacuation of city children.

Civil defense Childcare Day care Daycare


Reviewer: ERD - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 28, 2006
Subject: Poetic & Idealistic
Perhaps during W.W.II, the only way to keep British children safe was to send them to the country away from the bombings. However, during peacetime- I find sending 3 & 4 year olds to sleep away camps premature.(I can understand preschool day camps for working parents) In general, little children must be supervised very carefully by the proper amount of counselors. I found some of the activities dangerous(saws, hammers?). This "arty" film seemed unrealistic and too
poetically idealistic.
Reviewer: KidsAmerica - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 28, 2005
Subject: A lovely documentary of 3 to 7 year old kids in a country haven during World War II
A Child Went Forth is a pleasant bit of film that evidenced to frightened parents suffering the London bombings during World War II, that a safe haven existed in the English countryside where for a while they could place their youngest children out of harm's way.

The title is from a Walt Whitman poem about childhood...basically that every day a child lives, anything he touches becomes part of that child forevermore. A flower petal, a puppy, cool pond water, kind words from his adult caregiver, a loving hug, yummy food treats...anything at all. I'll provide a bit of the verse for reference:

"THERE was a child went forth every day; And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became; And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child, And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird..."


Some nudity while the toddlers frolic about in the pond is naturally captured in this short film and is complimentary to the setting, inasmuch as that was how younger children normally played in swimming water at the time.

No source of this film for sale is currently available, but a successful search on the internet will find a British historical web site which offers downloads of this film in several different formats.

For those persons who are interested in Great Brittain war time history, this classic short film is important, as it addresses an area that has normally been completely ignored...the younger child of war.
Reviewer: Arensky - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 11, 2005
Subject: A remarkable, delightful romp
I smiled all the way through this one and laughed aloud at children in the process of... well... being children. What a wonderful place for kids and I wish we could have this kind of thing today. But Christine's right. Today, it would never fly. And that's a pity -- not for us -- but for the childen who would benefit immeasureably from this kind of experience. Perhaps we adults should stop looking for devils under every rock so that our kids could, once again, be free and not captives to "grownup" paranoia.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 18, 2003
Subject: Children at Play on the Farm
This 40s film documents a progressive summer camp for young children, one that allows them to spend their time in free play, learning to solve their own problems. Mostly what we see are idylic images of small children playing freely in a farm setting. Adult supervision seems minimal, but the kids never seem to get really out of control, so you know that there must have been some limits. This film recalls a time when people seemed to be a lot less afraid of children or for childrenÃÂÃÂI doubt whether much of this would fly today. The kids are genuinely cute and charming and the scenes seem quite realistic. The only thing that bothered me was some of the interactions with animalsÃÂÃÂthese were for the most part little kids who didn't yet realize that animals have feelings and that if you pick up a bunny by its ears, it hurts. I think a little more adult supervision was called for there. There are also some brief, innocent scenes of nudity, generally involving water play, that may seem disturbing from today's perspective, but probably were not problematic in that time and place. This is a charming film, for the most part, though. If you like to watch little kids playing in an outdoor setting, then this is your movie.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 24, 2003
Subject: Innocent, but VERY suspicious..
Throughout watching 'A Child Went Forth' I kept asking myself who this film was made for. For kids? For Adults? This totally looks like some kind of Kamp Kult. Why is everyone, including the counsellours, wearing blue coveralls? Why are there gratitous nude shots of kids in this film? This is too bizarre to comprehend.
Lovely music though.
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